Eyal Ran surprisingly revealed yesterday after the loss to Ukraine that he has captained Israel’s Davis Cup team for the last time, leaving the blue-andwhite in a difficult position ahead of next month’s crucial tie against Romania.
(photo credit: YONI ARIELI)
After 12 years as captain, Eyal Ran unexpectedly announced on Sunday that he leaving Israel’s Davis Cup team effective immediately, just one month before the blue-and-white faces Romania in a decisive tie against relegation to Europa/ Africa Group II.
The 45-year-old Ran, who played for Israel’s Davis Cup team for six years in the 1990’s, guided the side to its greatest- ever achievement in 2009 with a memorable run to the semifinals. Ran and the blueand- white enjoyed far less success over recent years, last playing in the World Group in 2013.
Israel dropped to its second straight 5-0 defeat on Sunday, something which hadn’t happened in 50 years, after Ukraine completed a whitewash in the first round of the Relegation Play-Offs at Ramat Hasharon.
Israel will host Romania over the weekend of October 20-22 in a tie it must win to avoid relegation to Group II for the first time since 2001.
“I had the privilege and pride to lead the team as a player and then as a captain for 12 years,” said Ran. “I’m happy I guided the team to the Davis Cup semifinals and for the privilege I had of coaching players like Andy Ram, Yoni Erlich, Noam Okun, Amir Hadad, Harel Levy, Amir Weintraub and Dudi Sela to great achievements, and that everyone dreamed to be part of the national team.
“I’m also happy I had the privilege of coaching Israel’s future team: Yshai Oliel, Edan Leshem, Daniel Cukierman, Ben Patael and Mor Bulis, who are all young promising players and we can expect a lot from them in the coming years.”
Ran added that he really wanted to be at the helm for the tie against Romania as his father wasn’t allowed to play table tennis in Romania due to his wish to leave the then-Communist country for Israel 50 years ago.
“Nevertheless, I felt this was the time to pass the reins,” explained Ran.
The blue-and-white lost any hope of securing its survival with one day of matches still to play after falling to an unassailable 3-0 deficit against Ukraine on Saturday.
Mor Bulis, 21, made his Davis Cup debut in Sunday’s first rubber, replacing Dudi Sela. He didn’t put up much of a fight against world No. 52 Alexandr Dolgopolov, who claimed a 6-3, 6-2 win.
Illya Marchenko (286) completed Ukraine’s rout with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Edan Leshem (290).
On Friday, Sela and Leshem didn’t even manage to claim a set in the first two singles rubbers, with Sela and Yoni Erlich losing Saturday’s doubles encounter on a fifth-set tie-breaker after four hours and six minutes.
Romania dropped to a 4-1 defeat to Austria on Sunday.
Israel visited Romania in the first round of Group I two years ago, and was beaten 5-0.